News / Europe

Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actions

Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actionsi
X
August 30, 2013 8:12 PM
During Syria’s civil war, Russia has stood out as President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest ally. Now that the United States reportedly is preparing an aerial attack on Syria, where is Russia? VOA's James Brooke reports from Moscow.

Russia Seethes on Sidelines as West Prepares Syria Actions

James Brooke
Russia’s Navy is sending two warships into the Eastern Mediterranean, near the shores of Syria.
 
At the same time, Russia’s state-controlled TV shows President Vladimir Putin 6,000 kilometers to the east, touring flooded farmland in Siberia.
 
All week long, Russia’s president has kept quiet in public on Syria.

He is leaving his aides to do the talking as Western powers consider punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly gassing inhabitants of a Damascus suburb last week.
 
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted: "The West behaves like a monkey with a grenade in the Islamic world."

Military victory "an illusion"
 
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was more diplomatic about Western intervention in Syria’s civil war.

“If somebody thinks that by bombing the Syrian military infrastructure and leaving the battlefield for the opponents of the regime to win, they will end it - it is an illusion,” Lavrov said Monday at a press conference here. “Even if they win in such a way, the civil war will continue.  Those who represented the government side will simply become the opposition.”

International military deployments directed toward SyriaInternational military deployments directed toward Syria
x
International military deployments directed toward Syria
International military deployments directed toward Syria
​Russian analysts said that one or two days of punishing air strikes will not turn the tide of a war that has already cost 100,000 lives.
 
"Syrian regime will suffer a lot and it will lose some of its potential,” said Georgy Mirsky, professor of Mideast studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. “But Russia and Iran will make up for it. Everything will be compensated for this."

Mirsky and Russian parliamentarians say that Washington’s true goal today is the same as Washington’s past goals in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya - regime change.
 
Mirsky said that Russia will gain by doing nothing, calling such a position "extremely advantageous" to Russia.

"Now if the Americans engage in a war, in a new war they can't win, it is all the better for Russia," he said.
 
Blaming the rebels
 
Leaders of the United States and France said they are moved to military action by the alleged poison gas attack last week that reportedly killed 350 civilians and injured thousands more.
 
In the West, the prevailing consensus is that Syrian government soldiers carried out the gas attack, making it the latest escalation in over two years of attacks on civilians in opposition areas.
 
In Russia, diplomats and journalists have repeatedly suggested that Syrian opposition fighters gassed their own neighborhoods.
 
"Why is there such certainty that this was done by the regime while the arguments we're hearing are anyway not convincing?’” asked Vitaly Naumkin, World Politics faculty chair at Moscow State University. “It's incomprehensible. Why we can't wait for the (United Nations) inspectors to finish their work?"
 
Dissenting voices have been silenced.
 
Mahmoud al-Hamza, a Moscow-based member of the Syrian National Council, the opposition umbrella group, spoke to VOA.

"In the year since President Obama said that using chemical weapons crosses the red line, Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons and gas thirteen times," he said "This isn't the first time, and it won't be the last."
 
Al-Hamza says he is rarely invited to appear on Russian television.
 
“Two months ago, we wanted to hold a round table on Syria, and the special services warned us that they would arrest us,” he said, referring to Russia’s intelligence services. Speaking for opponents of President Assad, he said in Russian: “We don’t feel comfortable here.”

UN veto and evacuation
 
In the last two years, Russia has vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions for taking action against the Syrian government three times. Given the chance in coming days, Russia will undoubtedly cast a fourth veto.
 
Russian officials admit their ability to block the United States is limited. Even Minister Lavrov said Monday: “We are not going to fight anybody.”
 
A Navy official said Friday that the main role for Russian warships sent to Syria could be to evacuate some of the estimated 30,000 Russian citizens who live there.
 
The most Russia may do is snub President Obama next week when he comes to St. Petersburg for the G-20 summit. On Friday, a Kremlin aide said that President Putin will be too busy to do more than shake hands with the visiting American president.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Nick from: USA
September 01, 2013 7:29 AM
You are wrong when you say America wants to go to war in Syria. If America wanted to take military action we would have done so two years ago. The situation we find ourselves in has to do with principle. The world universally condemns the use of chemical and biological weapons and we unanimously declare their will be consequences in order to deter by anyone from using them. Then if someone uses these weapons does there not need to be a consequence, otherwise what is to keep someone else from using these weapons since the world has shown their will be no consequences for doing so.
The U.S. does not want war with Syria but we believe there needs to be a response for Assad using chemical weapons on his people. We do not seek to take over Syria, we would much prefer it if Russia, China, the UK, France, Turkey etc worked with us but countries do not want to come along we still see it as a job has to be done.


by: Blue_Sky from: Addis
August 30, 2013 9:33 AM
The only 'West' hoping to intervene right now is the USA, and sending warships is hardly classified as 'seething on the sidelines'. Even if you must go for hyperbole to drum up a vision of grandeur, one understand that there are limits too to that kind of thing.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid